Mystery MBD?

Melaleuca

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Hello! I would like some advice regarding my 2 year old redfoot. In spite of everything I've tried, Magda has been developing some pyramiding in only her back half which I know is a sign of MBD (pic attached of Magda in her waterbowl).

I've had her since she was about a month old, and she was a bit soft back then so she's been having calcium w D3 supplemented fairly regularly over the last 2 years. Her scute growth in the front is pretty smooth. her environment is a warm, humid, closed indoor enclosure (7'x3.5') with a tube UVB light. Her meals are typically rotating through dandelion/hibiscus/chicory/plantain plant leaves, mango/papaya/banana/plantain, and chicken/river shrimp/beef liver/beef kidney. She tries to eat concrete and gravel if given the opportunity on trips outside, so I've been supplementing Miner-All and Repashy Super Veggie 3x week in meals for over 6 months now with no noticeable improvement to her bumpy scute growth or preference for eating rocks.

Magda has always hated eating her greens so I have to chop and mix them up with some fruit and protein to make sure she eats them. She LOVES protein (river shrimp and beef liver in particular). She walks, eats, drinks, and poops fine, and spends most of her time chilling. She was negative for parasites, TINC, and herpes recently and the vet said they weren't worried about her bumpiness, but I really want to figure out what is not right so she can be as healthy as possible.

I've even bought a chunk of raw limestone (apparently a common primary ingredient in concrete and high in calcium) but Magda only took a couple of bites at it before losing interest. She's always had plenty of UVB and calcium supplemented. Is it a case of overdone calcium? Could it be caused by some other deficiency? I'd like to know opinions please.
 

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wellington

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More pictures needed. Side views of standing on flat surface.
Pyramiding is not a sign of mbd but a slanted back end can be.
 

Tom

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Hello! I would like some advice regarding my 2 year old redfoot. In spite of everything I've tried, Magda has been developing some pyramiding in only her back half which I know is a sign of MBD (pic attached of Magda in her waterbowl).

I've had her since she was about a month old, and she was a bit soft back then so she's been having calcium w D3 supplemented fairly regularly over the last 2 years. Her scute growth in the front is pretty smooth. her environment is a warm, humid, closed indoor enclosure (7'x3.5') with a tube UVB light. Her meals are typically rotating through dandelion/hibiscus/chicory/plantain plant leaves, mango/papaya/banana/plantain, and chicken/river shrimp/beef liver/beef kidney. She tries to eat concrete and gravel if given the opportunity on trips outside, so I've been supplementing Miner-All and Repashy Super Veggie 3x week in meals for over 6 months now with no noticeable improvement to her bumpy scute growth or preference for eating rocks.

Magda has always hated eating her greens so I have to chop and mix them up with some fruit and protein to make sure she eats them. She LOVES protein (river shrimp and beef liver in particular). She walks, eats, drinks, and poops fine, and spends most of her time chilling. She was negative for parasites, TINC, and herpes recently and the vet said they weren't worried about her bumpiness, but I really want to figure out what is not right so she can be as healthy as possible.

I've even bought a chunk of raw limestone (apparently a common primary ingredient in concrete and high in calcium) but Magda only took a couple of bites at it before losing interest. She's always had plenty of UVB and calcium supplemented. Is it a case of overdone calcium? Could it be caused by some other deficiency? I'd like to know opinions please.
Pyramiding and MBD are two different things. Pyramiding is caused by growth in conditions that are too dry. The dryness can be caused by an open topped enclosure, or by basking lamps that desiccate the carapace. MBD is caused by calcium or D3 deficiency. With your diet, UV bulb, and supplement routine, MBD seems very unlikely.

Too much calcium will cause an imbalance and cause the rock and concrete eating behavior you've seen. Calcium interferes with the absorption of other important minerals and trace elements. They need calcium supplementation in some cases, depending on diet, but not too much or too often.

Repashy has too much vitamin A for tortoises and should not be used. @TeamZissou ? Do I have that correct?

I normally do calcium once or twice a week. If I'm seeing rock eating, then I do the MinerAll every other day for a couple of weeks, and then cut down to twice a week.

@ZEROPILOT will correct me if I'm wrong, but RFs only need some protein once or twice a week. Not every day.

To prevent pyramiding: Daily 30-40 minute soaks, humidity over 80% 24/7 in a closed chamber, no basking lamp for a RF, spray the carapace with demineralized water several times a day, offer a humid hide or two, limit outside basking time for growing babies, use lots of plants in the indoor enclosure, and outside too.
 

Melaleuca

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Pyramiding and MBD are two different things. Pyramiding is caused by growth in conditions that are too dry. The dryness can be caused by an open topped enclosure, or by basking lamps that desiccate the carapace. MBD is caused by calcium or D3 deficiency. With your diet, UV bulb, and supplement routine, MBD seems very unlikely.

Too much calcium will cause an imbalance and cause the rock and concrete eating behavior you've seen. Calcium interferes with the absorption of other important minerals and trace elements. They need calcium supplementation in some cases, depending on diet, but not too much or too often.

Repashy has too much vitamin A for tortoises and should not be used. @TeamZissou ? Do I have that correct?

I normally do calcium once or twice a week. If I'm seeing rock eating, then I do the MinerAll every other day for a couple of weeks, and then cut down to twice a week.

@ZEROPILOT will correct me if I'm wrong, but RFs only need some protein once or twice a week. Not every day.

To prevent pyramiding: Daily 30-40 minute soaks, humidity over 80% 24/7 in a closed chamber, no basking lamp for a RF, spray the carapace with demineralized water several times a day, offer a humid hide or two, limit outside basking time for growing babies, use lots of plants in the indoor enclosure, and outside too.
Thank you for the info Tom! I've attached a couple more pics as Wellington asked as well. Magda's a little bit bumpy in the front but it's prominent in her back 3 (costal?) scutes which is what makes me concerned it's MBD.

From what you've written Tom I'm hoping I've just been overzealous about the calcium and Miner-all supplements so I'll cut them way down and see if that encourages smoother growth.

Her enclosure has always been closed with humidity 80%-99%, temps 80f-95f using a suspended CHE, with deep cococoir, peat moss, and coco bark as the substrate and humid hides (and access to a water bowl of course). I usually provide a small amount of protein in every meal to entice Magda to eat the greens, I figure a little bit in most meals will be about equivalent to feeding a larger amount once or twice a week.

I didn't know about Repashy being too high in vit A! I was using super veggie occasionally because she hates her greens and I figured it could provide whatever she might miss from being such a picky eater but I'll cut it out for now.
 

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Tom

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From what you've written Tom I'm hoping I've just been overzealous about the calcium and Miner-all supplements so I'll cut them way down and see if that encourages smoother growth.
The reduction of over supplementation will/should reduce the rock eating. That doesn't have an effect on pyramiding that we know of.

You might try switching form a CHE to an RHP for ambient heat. CHE get very hot and will create desiccation directly underneath. A RHP spreads the heat out over a large area and and is much less desiccating.

I would not use either type of peat moss for substrate. The dirt-like stuff can cause plastron burns. The long fibered stuff will usually be eaten and it can cause impaction.
 

TeamZissou

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I agree that it looks like more of a pyramiding problem rather than MBD. This tortoise looks very healthy overall. One possibility is that the front half of wherever she hides is humid and prevented pyramiding of those scutes, while the back half was either drier or exposed to more of the UV light for longer, which can also contribute to pyramiding.

All the Repashy supplements that I've looked at are sky high in pre-formed vitamin A (retinyl acetate) which can quickly lead to vitamin A overdose. It's somewhat less risky with larger tortoises because they would be getting a lower dose of the stuff relative to their body weight. Rep-Cal Herptivite is a lot safer because it contains a vitamin A precursor (beta carotene) but should still only be given in small amounts a few times per week for small tortoises.
 

Melaleuca

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I agree that it looks like more of a pyramiding problem rather than MBD. This tortoise looks very healthy overall. One possibility is that the front half of wherever she hides is humid and prevented pyramiding of those scutes, while the back half was either drier or exposed to more of the UV light for longer, which can also contribute to pyramiding.

All the Repashy supplements that I've looked at are sky high in pre-formed vitamin A (retinyl acetate) which can quickly lead to vitamin A overdose. It's somewhat less risky with larger tortoises because they would be getting a lower dose of the stuff relative to their body weight. Rep-Cal Herptivite is a lot safer because it contains a vitamin A precursor (beta carotene) but should still only be given in small amounts a few times per week for small tortoises.
It's a relief that it looks more like a pyramiding issue than a MBD issue! I guess the thread title needs an update 🤦‍♀️😂

Thank you TeamZissou for the vit A info; I'll get Rep Cal herptivite and use that once a week instead. And I'll look into getting a RHP instead of the CHE as well as you suggested Tom.

I hadn't considered that the pyramiding could be caused by her back half being exposed to different conditions to her front half. I can't believe I looked into what minerals are in our hard water but didn't consider that her back half might just be drying out 🤦‍♀️

That's interesting about the substrate. She's had no problems that I can tell with her substrate so far. I recently expanded her enclosure to the 7'x3.5' with one half tiles and the other half substrate, and she definitely prefers the tile side and only goes in the substrate side to explore and poop.
 
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ZEROPILOT

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Protein does not need to be provided every day. It should be part of the diet once or twice a week.
During the Summer I drop that down to about 5% of the diet because of the abundance of other great (free) food choices in south Florida.

I also do not supplement with added anything. I just provide cuttlebone at all times and change it often. I find it's cheap at bird boutiques if I request broken peices. Bird people only want them intact.
My tortoises all live outdoors 24/7 so my care requirements are likely different than yours.
Correct varied diet. Sunshine and cuttlebone. That's my winning combination.
I do have extensive experience with keeping RF tortoises. However. That is almost entirely with keeping them outdoors.
 

wellington

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She looks great, no mbd. What everyone has said is all great advice. I would add to take out the tiles and use one or two in the enclosure staggered for the purpose you are using them, but not a half of an enclosure. That side will be dryer and lower humidity just because of the tiles.
 

Melaleuca

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I have numerous mini thermometers/hygrometers throughout her enclosure measuring at floor level and the humidity stays 80% and above but I'll redistribute the substrate more across the enclosure and spread her plants (~15 tort safe plants in containers Magda can't knock over) out more evenly across it as well to promote humidity. I have a mini fan running in her house as well to help circulate air and heat so it doesn't all pool at the top.

I'm in Maine in an apartment at the moment so I admire outdoor enclosures and the easy access to food staples but right now they aren't a practical option for me. During the warmer months here I collect and feed safe weeds and I dry and store a lot to use through winter as well. She gets little sunshine trips when the temperature and weather permits.

I appreciate all the feedback! It's frustrating that the pyramiding is something I've probably caused but I'm relieved it's at least likely not MBD. I'll make the changes and hopefully see improvement soon.
 

keepingslim

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Pyramiding and MBD are two different things. Pyramiding is caused by growth in conditions that are too dry. The dryness can be caused by an open topped enclosure, or by basking lamps that desiccate the carapace. MBD is caused by calcium or D3 deficiency. With your diet, UV bulb, and supplement routine, MBD seems very unlikely.

Too much calcium will cause an imbalance and cause the rock and concrete eating behavior you've seen. Calcium interferes with the absorption of other important minerals and trace elements. They need calcium supplementation in some cases, depending on diet, but not too much or too often.

Repashy has too much vitamin A for tortoises and should not be used. @TeamZissou ? Do I have that correct?

I normally do calcium once or twice a week. If I'm seeing rock eating, then I do the MinerAll every other day for a couple of weeks, and then cut down to twice a week.

@ZEROPILOT will correct me if I'm wrong, but RFs only need some protein once or twice a week. Not every day.

To prevent pyramiding: Daily 30-40 minute soaks, humidity over 80% 24/7 in a closed chamber, no basking lamp for a RF, spray the carapace with demineralized water several times a day, offer a humid hide or two, limit outside basking time for growing babies, use lots of plants in the indoor enclosure, and outside too.
Wish the reason was so cut and dry, but actually is is not so simple. If this were to be true, then all tortoises brought up under the same excellent conditions would all be fine. The truth is that in reality this infrequently happens. Some will show signs of slight pyramiding, whilst others may be perfectly smooth.
 

Tom

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Wish the reason was so cut and dry, but actually is is not so simple. If this were to be true, then all tortoises brought up under the same excellent conditions would all be fine. The truth is that in reality this infrequently happens. Some will show signs of slight pyramiding, whilst others may be perfectly smooth.
Which part are you disagreeing with? Let's have some tortoise conversation!
 
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